Have you ever been outside in northeast Los Angeles or Pasadena and heard the loud squawking of wild parrots? I always hear them before I can see them. Their vibrant green feathers make them easy to spot while in flight, but harder to see when they’ve landed in large canopied trees. They usually fly in large flocks and can be quite loud, which according to my research, is the way these birds normally communicate. Per the Parrot ID Guide of The California Parrot Project, I believe these are the Yellow-chevroned Parakeets or the Red-lored Parrot, both of which have been documented in Los Angeles.
Urban legend has it that these parrots – not Southern California natives, but originally from tropical and subtropical regions of the northern hemisphere – were released from a pet store in Pasadena when it closed for business some years ago. And according to a local ornithologist, parrots have preferred roosting areas that are made up of tall dense trees that provide shelter from the elements. If the trees they land on are damaged in a storm, heavily pruned, or removed, the parrots will move to another group of trees. Their food consists mainly of a year-round source of seeds, fruits, and nectar from the many non-native plants growing in the urban and residential areas in our city. And, there are no known predators here in Los Angeles, such as snakes in the tropical parts of the world where these birds come from originally to consume their eggs.
Kimball L. Garrett, Ornithology Collections Manager at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County says this about them on the website:
Parrots are symptomatic of the expansion of urban habitats dominated by non-native plants; they also illustrate the capacity of humans to move wildlife around the planet for economic, social or aesthetic reasons. They are here, for better or worse, and continue to pose interesting biological questions.
Ah, yes, it’s not just us humans who come here to Los Angeles for the food and year-round warm weather!